It’s official. There are less than two months until Tuesday, April 15—the 2014 Internal Revenue Service’s tax filing deadline.
While it may not be everyone’s favorite day of the year, Tax Day is an important reminder to keep one’s finances in order. In doing so, it’s important to get your documents in order so as to file your 2013 tax return correctly.
Val Vigil, Thornton’s Ward 2 councilman and mayor pro tem, offered some advise to those filing their taxes.
Vigil, who said he has worked in the tax industry for about 41 years, said he’s often asked about whether or not people should file their taxes.
“If you received a W-2 or 1099 [form], there is no question, you have to file,” he said. He continued, “when the employer gives you a 1099 or W-2, they also send one to the federal government. [The federal government is] waiting to see if the information matches.” Vigil said that those who worked at more than one place in the same year, in particular, need to have all their documents ready. He said filers who’ve forgotten a W-2 will have to “amend the entire return” if that happens.
“I think that the problem that they have is their record keeping. They don’t know what records to keep to file taxes properly,” he said.
Vigil also said that people should consider having the same tax preparer every year. This allows the tax preparer, which he said could be someone from a well-known tax preparation business or from a nonprofit organization, to give you the best advise because they are already familiar with your history (car purchases, donations and medical expenses, for example.)
He also noted filing taxes that involve dependents. Vigil said that you can claim dependents “if you help [family members for example] with their [children’s] support.” Albeit, this applies only if those who would normally claim the children as dependents don’t have to file taxes.
“I’ll tell you one of the common mistakes that happens,” Vigil said. “When kids start going to college, 17 or 18 years old, they go out on their own and they claim themselves as their dependent—then you can’t claim them twice.”
For those who fall into this category, Vigil said, “Don’t claim yourself as a dependent.” He spoke about the question that asks, ‘Will someone else claim you as a dependent?’, “put ‘yes.’”
Asked what final words he would like to share with La Voz readers, Vigil said: “You have to file. You might be able to get away two or three years [without filing], but the IRS will catch you and then you are left to pay twice. Just do it. It’s an obligation to do. Just be as honest as you can; you have nothing to fear.”
La Voz also spoke with The Piton Foundation, which is a prime example of where Coloradans can turn to for affordable tax services.
“We operate the Tax Help Colorado in conjunction with the Colorado Community College System. We have 28 free tax service sites,” said Melissa Viola of The Piton Foundation. “We’ve been around for a few years,” Viola said. It was launched in 2007. “The program has continued to grow [and] we’ve added a few more college campuses.” Viola said that the sites are “primarily located in community colleges” and are offered to those whose income is below $50,000 for free.
Recently, The Piton Foundation and Connect for Health Colorado announced their partnership in providing free tax assistance to Coloradans while also providing assistance in health insurance enrollment at 21 tax sites in February and March.
Viola explained that the partnership with Connect for Health Colorado came from its campaign to bring awareness to lower income Coloradans about the federally mandate health insurance and noticed that there was “overlap” among those who qualify for Medicaid and those qualifying for tax credits. “And to try to help enroll our tax clients who don’t have health insurance,” Viola said.
She said that last year, there were about 345,000 Coloradans who claimed about $719 million [in Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) refunds]. “So that’s a whole lot of money going back to people who really need it,” she said.